Tag Archives: Kyoko Mogami

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 5 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 5

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: March 6, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Playing the giant chicken Bo on television is exhausting for Kyoko, but she’s actually grateful the producer gave her a second chance, after the fiasco with Sho. But apparently the viewers loved her and thought the old Bo was boring, so now she is determined to make the most of this opportunity. To do her best, so she can succeed.

Kyoko runs into Ren at the agency, and his being nice to her and smiling at her has even more freaked out than before. She forgets to inform the agency that she has an audition for a commercial scheduled for the next day. Of course they are happy for her, and Ren tells her to do her best. At the audition, Kyoko unexpectedly runs into Moko, and an entitled blonde who is sure the world revolves around her and her money. Apparently, she and Moko go way back, and she is very condescending and mean to Moko. But instead of fighting fire with fire, as only Moko can, she is down and almost defeated! Kyoko can’t believe what she is seeing. What’s going on here? After the first round of auditions, Moko is ready to quit, but Kyoko slaps some sense into her!

The commercial’s director, who missed the first audition, overhears the discussion between Kyoko and Moko, and is curious to see what they can do. So he changes the casting call from one to two girls, and all the girls have to team up to audition.  Kyoko ends up with Moko. When the others girls, including the rich one, find out that Moko and Kyoko work together at LME, they claim their pairing is unfair. So to even the playing field, they demand that they can’t rehearse together beforehand. Moko is appalled, but Kyoko agrees. But can they play upon one another and bring out the emotions the director and his team need for the product without even being able to discuss it first?

This is a big deal for Kyoko, auditioning for this commercial. No chicken suit to hide inside, only her. Plus she is auditioning against Moko, whom she strongly wants to be friends with. Moko is resistant to her overtures of friendship, but Kyoko isn’t the type to give up easily. I enjoyed watching the director of the commercial as he watched them carefully, sensing something special there. And of course he was right.

Poor Kyoko has no idea that Ren has finally realized how and when he knows her from because she has changed so much, and she has no idea who he was to her. All she knows is that she is afraid of his gentlemanly side as much as his colder side. I love watching the two of them together, but I know they have a long way to go. Lots of fun in this volume, can’t wait for more!

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 4 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 4   

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: January 2, 2007

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kyoko shines in an exercise at the LME acting school, at the same time helping the president’s granddaughter, Maria, grapple with issues she has with her father. Maria fears her father doesn’t love her and thinks he blames her for her mother’s tragic death. Kyoko helps her to learn to communicate with him, thus earning Lory’s trust, even if he doesn’t always understand her methods. But he realizes his initial assessment of her was correct. She has something… something definitely worth cultivating.

Lory tells Kyoko that, as a minor, she needs her mother’s signature to make her debut with LME. But he isn’t prepared for what he sees in her eyes when he brings up the matter. Is there a way to work around this, for her sake?

Kyoko has a special stone that is very important to her. She keeps it with her at all times and relies on it in times of stress. So when she drops it, she is afraid she’s damaged it, or worse, she’ll never see it again. Ren Tsuruga finds it and returns it to her, but in the process a memory is awakened…

Kyoko and Moko receive an assignment as seat fillers for the first variety show of a popular rock band that LME is very proud of called Bridge Rock. At the last minute, a supervisor asks if they can help out with something else, as a cast member can’t make it. Moko enthusiastically agrees, until she finds out what the part is and leaves that to Kyoko, who suddenly finds herself thrust into a giant chicken suit!

As if this isn’t bad enough, she learns that the band’s first guest is none other than Sho Fuwa! Talk about awkward. But she comes to appreciate the fact that he won’t even know it’s her in this suit. So, what can she do to sabotage him?

After the debacle of the show, while still in costume, Kyoko runs into a distraught Ren. As she instinctively tries to help him, she begins to discover a whole new side of the actor she never knew existed. But can she keep him from taking off her bird head and revealing who she really is?

I loved this volume, as we get to know Kyoko more and more. She is developing, both as an actor and as a person. Of course she isn’t perfect, and her vendetta against Sho is still very much alive. But watching her with Maria is priceless, and of course her interactions with Ren, who is worth far more than that trashy Sho. Now the question is, what does Ren remember, and what is the story here?

The story is both humorous and dramatic. You gotta love Kyoko’s little voodoo dolls, she is so serious about them. And my heart aches for her as she tries to gain Moko’s friendship. This is a young girl, on her own in a big city, taking care of herself the best she can. How can you  not root for her?

Can’t wait for the next book!

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 3 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 3     

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: November 7, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

When the director offers to give Kyoko a tea-making lesson, as he’s doing with Ruriko, she turns him down. She doesn’t need that, having learned how to perform a tea ceremony a long time ago at the inn run by Sho’s parents. But she doesn’t tell him that, of course.  She’s trying to put all that behind her. When she learns that Ruriko isn’t really ill, as she thought, merely spoiled and pampered, Kyoko grows angry and more determined to best her. Ren tries to persuade her to drop out of the contest, due to her injury, but he doesn’t know her very well, and she refuses to back out.

Ren runs through the lines with Ruriko, and then it’s Kyoko’s turn, and an amazing thing happens. Ren’s acting changes, as he becomes more serious with her, and his acting provokes an unexpected response from Kyoko which blows everyone away. However, Kyoko is more seriously hurt than she has let on…

Kyoko has scared Ruriko enough that she ceases her previous behavior. When Lory learns that the change in his actress is due to Kyoko, rather than Ren,  he is surprised. As a parting gift, the grateful director allows her a photo shoot, complete with make-up, which makes Kyoko very happy.

Back at LME, Kyoko unexpectedly encounters one of the other actresses from the LME auditions, who is surprised to see Kyoko there since she flunked the audition. But Moko can’t afford to be too high and mighty, as Kyoko learns that she is the newest member of the Love Me section! Kyoko is determined that the two of them will get through this together, so thrilled is she to have someone else to share her misery with.

Kyoko wants to attend the LME actor training school, in order to work on her craft, but the cost is rather prohibitive. However, when Lory requests a favor of her regarding his wayward granddaughter, Maria, Kyoko wonders if maybe this is the answer to how she can afford to get into the school.

Much going on in this volume. I think Kyoko is becoming serious about her acting, as opposed to just wanting to become more successful than Sho. It’s not just an ends to a mean, but something she really wants to learn to do well. Also, I think Ren is starting to see her as someone with more talent than he’s given her credit for. Okay, so Kyoko didn’t get the part. No one wins all the time, but she won something more. She was able to make a veteran actress change her horrible ways, and she brought out something in Ren. Or he brought it out in her. Or maybe it’s mutual.

I love Lory’s faith in her. He’s rather unconventional, but a lot of fun, and he sincerely loves his granddaughter, who is just a little girl but is being blamed for the death of her mother. No wonder she acts up! He has a feeling that Ms. Mogami can get through to her. At least he hopes so, as he doesn’t know where else to turn. I love the bonding that takes place between Kyoko and Maria (even if others might find it a little frightening). I love the humor in this series, but it’s also serious and dramatic too.

Looking forward to the next volume.

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 2 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 2     

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: September 5, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga//200 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kyoko’s audition for LME has failed, so she finds another day job instead.  She feels like a loser, which is bad enough, and then she sees Sho in a cosmetics commercial on TV, reminding her of why she wants to succeed in show business. Then just by coincidence a large bus pulls into the place where she works, and who should step out of the bus but Sho himself? Kyoko is terrified he’ll see her and realize her failure, but he doesn’t even recognize her (in all fairness she did get an expensive makeover after selling her Sho memorabilia).  Rather than release her anger at Sho, however, she pretends to be a number one fan, to throw him off the track, even speaking the words he longs to hear.

Meanwhile, the head of LME, Lory, is intrigued by what he has seen of Kyoko, and sets the stage for her return. At least he hopes she’ll return. Ren Tsuruga does not hope so, since he dislikes her reason for wanting to exceed in show business. But Lory sees something in her and wants to fan that spark into a flame. And go back she does, determined to succeed. Which is how she ends up in LME’s new section – the Love Me Section. Not quite what she was hoping for, but hey, it’s a foot in the door. Work her way up from the bottom? In this case, she’s starting from the basement! And she has to do anything that is requested of her, no matter how silly or menial or demeaning. How well she does will be reflected in the points she is given for her job. And if she earns enough points, she can become a proper part of the agency. What does it matter that she has to wear a bright hot pink uniform with Love Me written on back and front, and that people who see her are laughing at her? He who laughs last laughs best, after all.

Kyoko runs into LME actress Ruriko Matsunai, who wishes to make a request of her, which Kyoko agrees to. Unknown to her, Lory is hoping that by putting Ruriko into a film with Ren,  Ren can help to cure some of her bad habits. Such as lack of punctuality. And demanding to be pampered. Ruriko has had a special umbrella made for some outdoor scenes (costing a day of delay waiting for the umbrella). She wants Kyoko to carry it for her. Kyoko, thinking the actress is allergic to UV rays, is determined to be her white knight and help keep her safe. She ends up carrying the actress up a hill toward the shooting set and injuring herself in the process. Can that be Ren Tsuruga to the rescue? Le gasp!

When Ruriko displays her usual bratty behavior and refuses to work, the director gets Kyoko to step in for her, despite her injury. And suddenly Ruriko is worried that she may actually lose her role to someone she refers to as a hyena. Could this be Kyoko’s big break?

I can’t say enough good things about this series and love it to death. Kyoko is such an interesting character, and certainly not perfect. You could definitely say she has issues, chief among them Sho Fuwa. But she has integrity and she takes pride in her work, and goes above and beyond the call of duty.  And she has a very big heart. How can you not hope she gets the final laugh at Sho? Lory is quite the character, a man of a million costumes and quirks, but he has a good heart and good instincts about people.

Another great volume, looking forward to the next.

Book Review: Skip Beat! Vol 1 by Yoshiki Nakamura

Skip Beat! Vol 1     

Author: Yoshiki Nakamura

Publisher: Viz Media

American release date: July 5, 2006

Format/Genre/Length: Paperback/Shojo Manga/Supernatural/184 pages

Overall Personal Rating: ★★★★

Reviewer: Julie Lynn Hayes

 

Kyoko and Sho have known each other since they were children, practically raised together. So when Sho, pursuing his dreams of stardom by moving to Tokyo, asks Kyoko to go with him, how can she say no? Forgoing high school, the sixteen-year-old gets a job and works hard to support them both, while Sho works at becoming a famous musician. Kyoko remains in the background as he grows in popularity, and has to endure hearing other girls talk about Sho and the things they wish they could do with him. But Kyoko knows that when he isn’t on tour, it’s her he comes home to.

Until one day she overhears Sho and his manager talking about her, and she learns that she is only a housemaid to Sho! Angry and hurt, she confronts him, but he doesn’t even seem to care. How could she have been so blind? He taunts her by saying that if she wants to get revenge on him, she should go into show business and become better than him.

Revenge is on!

Kyoko hasn’t got the faintest idea of how to become a celebrity, and has no particular talent. But that doesn’t stop her. Selling the Sho merchandise she has accumulated, she gets a complete makeover, turning from brunette to blonde. Then she goes to one of the two top talent agencies, the one that isn’t Sho’s but is home to his biggest rival, Ren Tsuruga. Ren is far above Sho, which has always griped the selfish singer to no end.

No talent? No problem! Kyoko is sure that sheer determination and spunk will get her where she wants to go! She is so focused, she is downright scary!

I am actually re-reading this series, and I totally love it! The only minor complaint I have about the artwork is that everyone has really weirdly pointy chins. But in the scheme of things I can forgive that as it’s a really good manga. Kyoko is a strong female character, but she is far from perfect, although she is rather naïve. At heart, she’s a very good girl, but Sho has hurt her, and there is a very thin line between love and hate. In this first volume, we meet some of the people who will become pivotal to Kyoko in the future, including the eccentric head of L.M.E. Talent Agency, Lorry. Also Ren Tsuruga and Kanae Kotonami.

Kyoko learns that guts will only get her so far. She has to develop whatever talents she possesses in order to succeed with her chosen revenge on Sho. In the process, she may just find who she truly is. On to the next volume!